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The Era of Virtual Learning

Kevin Ruiz is a senior at Cleveland STEM High School and a marketing intern at Floop.

My experience

In early March I was in the middle of soccer practice when we found out school would be suspended for one day so it could be cleaned out and disinfected in case Covid-19 had been in the building because there had been a reported case of someone coming in contact with a person with COVID, but then one day became 2 weeks then 2 weeks became 2 months and next thing you know the school had been suspended for the rest of the school year. All the students were thinking was how will we learn or go to class now? How will teachers grade us? Will we even go back to class, all these questions started coming up for us with no immediate clear answers, Then all of these apps started coming up, apps that were made specifically for online interactions and could hold many people in a virtual environment for like a class. Wow perfect am I right. In my case my school used Microsoft Teams to hold office hours and sometimes full classes for students, in other cases they used the more popular app Zoom, regardless these apps came in and helped many schools get students the education they needed to truly complete the year.

How were digital tools being used?

These apps can hold a good amount of people, so it would make sense that teachers could have all their students join and hold their normal classes, most teachers would follow that route, or they would hold office hours where they would have a live session where students could join for an hour or so and ask any questions on the assignments. In my opinion, I feel having a class like a session would be better because for me I'm a student who prefers the environment of being in a class that way it is easier to focus especially when you are at home and can be distracted so easily and the content of the lesson is actually being taught by the teacher, rather than us trying to figure it out and asking questions later. The office hours are a good idea but I feel it should be more as an extra option for after class or just available when students have questions. These would all be through online interactions.

Barriers of virtual learning 

Virtual learning can be good for so many students in many ways but can also come with struggles for students of all ages. Many students might not have the resources to be able to keep up with virtual learning, especially if the class is being held through a video chat meeting. This impacts how teachers can help their students and how students can go out and get help for whatever problems they need, during a pandemic, this becomes even worse because we want to limit interactions between people in general. Many students may go through this depending on what resources their schools provide. At my school, every student is given a laptop throughout their 4 years at high school, so some schools do have the resources to make virtual learning happen but with all that comes many issues, a student may encounter at home that they may not be able to fix on their own. For example, wifi issues as a student may not have access to WiFi, the computer may have issues itself and the student does not have access to a tech person who can help, mainly technical issues a student may encounter.

Ways to use them

Teachers can use the apps to have the full classroom experience, where the students join at their regular class time and teachers have a teaching session like normal. They could also hold 1 on 1 meeting with students at certain times. Finally, students themselves can create or have the teachers create group calls when working on an assignment together or to have peer learning groups. Using our app at Floop is also a great example of how virtual learning can be used, Floop helps tackle barriers that students may encounter, Floop allows students to interact with their teachers out of school, if a student has no access to wifi but does have a cellular device, they can send pictures to their teachers of work they are struggling on, a teacher can quickly get back to their student and give them the feedback they need because even in virtual learning we still need to emphasize the importance of Feedback and Floop is a great way to keep doing that.



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